VINTAGE Brut was an emphatic winner of Rockingham Stakes at York – sparking Royal Ascot hopes next summer for Yorkshire trainer Tim Easterby.
The winner, who stormed home by an easy four and a half lengths, made a mockery of his 15th place in last weekend’s Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar.
But Easterby explained an unfavourable draw left Vintage Brut with no chance from the outset then – and it was a very different story on rain-softened ground on the Knavesmire.
“The draw was hopeless last week. He came in dry, he never did a stroke,” he said. “It was lovely ground, and he (jockey David Allan) just let him roll on.
“I’m delighted for the owners (King Power Racing) – because they paid a lot of money for this horse.”
There could be much better to come too, according to the shrewd Great Habton trainer. “He could be a top-class sprinter next year – he could be going for something like the Commonwealth Cup if the ground is right,” added Easterby. “He’ll be all right on good ground.”
Meanwhile Josephine Gordon steered Major Jumbo to a lucrative success in the Coral Sprint Trophy at York for Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan.
Like Vintage Brut in the earlier Rockingham Stakes, Major Jumbo had disappointed on his most recent outing – the Ayr Gold Cup in his case – but showed his true colours by getting the better of a protracted duel with stablemate Teruntum Star before repelling the late challenge of Flying Pursuit.
Kimberella flew home for third with Teruntum Star fading into fourth. “This time of year, if you’ve got sprinters good enough to be in it, it’s worth a lot of money and the year has nearly finished, so you throw as many darts at the board as you can,” said Ryan who praised Gordon’s tactical acumen.
Just over 350,000 racegoers attended this year’s meetings at York, with Malton’s Richard Fahey top trainer for a record ninth time and Oisin Murphy taking the riding honours thanks, in no small part, to his association with Roaring Lion who won both the Dante Stakes and Juddmonte International.
Murphy was at Newmarket on Saturday when his mount, Advertise, chased home John Gosden’s superlative Too Darn Hot in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes.
To Darn Hot’s victory in the colours of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife Madeleine confirmed the recent Doncaster winner as a two-year-old champion of the highest order and a worthy favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas. It was jockey Frankie Dettori’s first win in the Group One and he eulogised: “He’s up with the best I’ve ridden, he’s got a good cruising speed and he moves his legs really fast!”
Injury-sidelined jockey PJ McDonald is due to return to the saddle on Wednesday. It means he should be free to resume his partnership with Karl Burke’s stable star Laurens who is due, according to owner John Dance, to be supplemented today for this Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot – part of Qipco Champions Day.
Ahead of Wetherby’s season-opening meeting on Wednesday, no jockey has worked harder in the off-season than Middleham’s Henry Brooke who proved his fitness when Sophie Olivia won at Hexham on Saturday. The card also saw a smart Bumper win by Mr Scrumpy from the Leyburn stable of Jedd and Andrea O’Keeffe whose horses continue to excel under both codes.